Studies of the United States’ domestic slave trade generally assume that slave commerce rapidly collapsed during the Civil War under pressure from a deteriorating Rebel economy and the threat of emancipation. In fact, Confederates conducted a robust trade in slaves throughout the conflict. The very crises that ought to have strangled the slave trade, moreover, often galvanized it. Enticed by the promise of a revived slave economy at the war’s end—and a corresponding boom in slave prices—residents of the Confederate States of America considered enslaved people an alluring speculation. In the meantime, enslaved property helped Rebels hedge against wartime inflation, even as transactions in slaves embodied their faith in the Confederate experiment. The wartime slave trade, then, offered supremely confident Confederates a chance to invest in the slaveholding future they fought to secure while also shielding themselves, through the enslaved, from the economic consequences of the slaveholders’ rebellion.


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pp. 439-468
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